When Johnson Brothers was founded in 1883 by Frederick and Alfred Johnson, their goal for their Staffordshire pottery was to produce an earthenware called “White Granite,” which is marked on many early pieces as “SEMI PORCELAIN.” It was a great material for dinnerware because it looked like china but was as tough as ironstone. As it turned out, though, White Granite would not be the product for which Johnson Brothers would become best known.

By 1888, Frederick and Alfred’s elder brother, Henry, had joined the company, which produced its wares in a factory called the Charles Street Works in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as at two other facilities nearby. By the end of the century, the family’s fourth brother, Robert, joined his siblings from a satellite office in New York, the number of Johnson Brothers potteries would climb to five, and the ware for which the firm would become most famous, transferware, would be added to the line.

With Robert drumming up sales in America, Johnson Brothers products were soon selling well in the United States, where transferware and flow blue porcelain were very popular. The quality of the ware was unquestioned, but the company’s mid-range pricing made it easy for people to fill their cupboards with Johnson Brothers products.

In the early part of the century, the sons of the brothers joined the firm to lead sales efforts across Europe. After World War I, during the 1920s, a new colored clay called “Dawn” was introduced—it came in gray, rose, green, and gold. By the end of the decade, several Johnson grandsons had also joined the firm.

Flow blue patterns produced by Johnson Brothers in the early years of the 20th century included Albany, Astoria, Brooklyn, Claremont, Clarence, Clayton, Del Monte, Dresden, Eclipse, Florida, Fulton, Jewel, Montana, Neopolitan, Normandy, Oregon, Oxford, Pansey, Peach, Pekin, Persian, Princeton, Richmond, Royston, Stanley, St. Louis, Tokio, Tulip, Venice, and Vienna. Later, in the teens and early 1920s, Andora, Argyle, Coral, Georgia, Holland, Kenworth, Mongolia, Savoy, Sterling, and Turin were introduced.

Most Johnson Brothers marks from those years had a crown on them, some with squared-off corners. The pattern name was sometimes printed with quotes around it, but more often it went without.

Beyond flow blue, Johnson Brothers produced numerous transferware patterns for its plates, platters, and pitchers. The firm is most often associated with patterns featuring wild ...

The 1930s saw the shuttering of the company’s original Charles Street Works and the replacement of its traditional coal-fired “bottle” kilns for all-electric tunnel versions. With a Depression on, it was a good time to modernize in the hopes of better days ahead.

After World War II, pieces in the Friendly Village pattern were widely sought, as were the company’s Christmas plates. By the 1950s, cups and saucers in the Carnival line featured bold solid colors and cups with tapering bases. The look was very Mid-century Modern, which was a long way from the company’s aesthetic roots. Finally, in 1968, unable to remain independent any longer, Johnson Brothers joined the Wedgwood Group.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Lot Of 86 Vtg Johnson Brothers The Friendly Village Pattern China DinnerwareRare Large Johnson Brothers Friendly Village Punch / Centerpiece Bowl Scarce/superb Vintage 1913+ Johnson Bros Pottery Old English Ranelagh Sugar BowlJohnson Bros The Friendly Village 2 Tier Plate SetJohnson Brothers Historic America Independence Hall Platter 16" Brown MulticolorBauer Hi Fired Vase Fred Johnson Slip Cast #219 Aqua / Teal / Turquoise GlazeJohnson Brothers Stagecoach China Large Set4 Johnson Brothers Blue Willow 10 1/4 Inch Dinner Plates Mint6 Game Birds Johnson Brothers Dinner Plates Grouse Turkey Partridge Woodcock++mcFour (4) Johnson Brother China "his Majesty " Salad Plates England MintParagon Cup And Saucer Huge Red Roses Signed By Artist R. JohnsonJohnson Sheraton Complete Setting For 8 Plus Platter, Sugar And Cream8 Johnson Brothers Blue Nordic Onion Fruit BowlsJohnson Bros.the Friendly Village~gravy Boat & UnderplateJohnson Brothers Provincial Dinner Plates 9 3/4" Across IronstoneJohnson Brothers Historic America Blue 32 Oz Monticello Pitcher Excellent2 Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Menagerie Plates Lion And Horse Blue/white Johnson Bros.(3) Johnson Brothers England "summer Chintz" Square Salad Soup BowlsTulip Time Johnson Bros Lot Of 46 Pieces Dinnerware Set English Blue White China5 Johnson Brothers Hearts And Flowers 10" Dinner Plates Ironstone England Nice!Johnson Brothers Winchester Set Of 4 Bread/dessert Plates From An EstateRose Chintz Three Tier China Serving Dish Made In England Johnson BrothersVintage Fine China Indian Tree" Johnson Bros ~ England ~ 4 Fruit Salad BowlsSet Of 4 Johnson Bros Staffordshire Old Granite Fruit Sampler Soup Cereal BowlsJohnson Brothers Friendly Village The Stone Wall Berry Fruit Bowls 5 1/4" Three!2 Millstream Pink Johnson Brothers Flowers & Mill Scene 10" Dinner PlatesJohnson Brothers Historic America 16” Oval Blue Independence Hall Servin PlatterRiver Scenes Platter By Johnson Bros. EnglandJohnson Brothers Friendly Village Sugar Bowl & Lid England ChipJohnson Bros The Friendly Village - Made In England - Lot Of 5Johnson Brothers ? Hearts & Flowers Salt & Pepper Shaker Set-unmarked4-piece Johnson Brothers "regency" White Swirl Coffee Cups/england/vintage Set!Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges Drinking Glass Lamplighter Pattern Excellent! Vintage Johnson Brothers Fine English China - Bread Dessert Plate - Blue WillowAntique Johnson Brothers Winchester Set Of 4 Handle Soup Bowls, Red Back StampVintage Johnson Bro Game Bird Dinner Plates: Partridge, Woodcock, GrouseJohnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Purple Lavender Vegetable BowlAntique Johnson Brothers England Dorchester Floral Round Serving Bowl 8 1/4" Johnson Brothers Devon Cottage Creamer - NewJohnson Brothers China "old Britian Castles" Pink 13 1/2" Oval Platter - As IsJohnson Brothers Heritage White 1 Coupe Cereal Bowl Ironstone EnglandJohnson Brothers Mcdonalds Farm 6 1/4" PlateJohnson Brothers Coaching Scenes Ironstone Set Of 8 Teacups PinkJohnson Brothers - 2 Cups & Saucers - Ducks & Game Birds - Brookshire PatternAstoria Flow Blue Cup Bone Dish By Johnson Brothers #42 Millstream Pink Johnson Brothers Flowers & Mill Scene Coupe Cereal BowlsVintage Johnson Bros Garden Bouquet Salad Under Soup Plates 8 3/4 InchesJohnson Brothers Old Granite Fruit Sampler Platter 14" L Staffordshire EnglandJohnson Bros Heritage Hall Cereal Bowl Set Of 4Vintage Johnson Bros England Platter"castle On The Lake" Blue Pattern Pat#118580Olde English Country Side Johnson Bros Plate With HangerWinchester Johnson Bros England 15" Oval Serving Platter Johnson Brother's Fine English China - A Pair (2) Butter Pats Or Tea Tidy Vintage Johnson Brothers Fine English China - Berry Or Sauce Bowl - Blue Willow